Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander throws in the first inning of a game against the Colorado Rockies. He threw his fourth complete game of the year.
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DENVER — The Colorado Rockies’ momentum was slowed but not stopped by one of baseball’s best pitchers.
Justin Verlander threw a four-hitter for his second straight complete game in the Detroit Tigers’ 9-1 win over Colorado on Sunday. The loss snapped the Rockies’ four-game winning streak, but they feel it’s a temporary setback.
“Offensively, we’re doing a lot better,” Carlos Gonzalez said. “Our pitching staff did a great job, too. We always battle the whole time and that’s been the difference. When we go out there and play hard and just do our business, the Rockies are going to be in a good position.”
Ty Wiggington homered and Troy Tulowitzki had two hits for the Rockies, who were trying to sweep their first series since taking four from the Mets in April. It proved tough to do against Verlander, who threw a no-hitter last month and came within five outs of another Tuesday.
“He’s pretty special every time he takes the ball,” Wiggington said. “A true No. 1 starter, a guy who can give the bullpen a day off, and he did that again today.”
The Rockies had their chances early against Verlander. Tulowitzki reached third with one out, but Verlander struck out Wiggington and got Charlie Blackmon to ground out to end the threat.
Colorado starter Aaron Cook couldn’t match Verlander’s effectiveness. He surrendered Ryan Rayburn’s RBI single in the second, Avila’s sacrifice fly and Andy Dirks’ RBI single in the third that made it 3-0, and Don Kelly tripled home Austin Jackson in the fourth to make it 4-0.
Cook (0-2) was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the sixth after allowing four runs on eight hits, walking two and striking out four.
The Rockies got to Detroit’s first two starters in the series but couldn’t solve Verlander until Wiggington’s one-out homer in the bottom of the fifth that made it 4-1. It was the first run Verlander allowed in 16 1-3 innings.
Blackmon followed with a single to left but he was erased when Cabrera threw him out at second trying to advance on an errant pickoff attempt.
Colorado’s defense, which was stellar in Saturday’s win, allowed the Tigers to put the game out of reach in the seventh.
With Kelly on first, Boesch’s single rolled under Seth Smith’s glove to the wall, scoring Kelly. After a walk to Cabrera, catcher Matt Pagnozzi’s passed ball scored Boesch and Cabrera moved to third when reliever Rex Brothers misplayed the throw to the plate. Avila singled to make it 7-1.
Boesch and Cabrera homered on consecutive pitches in the ninth off reliever Clayton Mortensen.
The Rockies hit the road to play the Indians and Yankees and are within 3½ games of the Giants in the NL West.
“We’ve had a nice homestand winning six out of 10, we’ve built some momentum for ourselves,” manager Jim Tracy said. “We need to have a good road trip. That will help us out immensely.”
Notes: Rockies RHP Ubaldo Jimenez said the cramp in his right calf that forced him out of Saturday’s game will not force him to miss his next start Friday against the Yankees in New York. Jimenez said Sunday he felt the calf become tight when he was running the bases in the second and it got worse in the sixth, but it felt fine Sunday morning. ... Brothers needed four stitches after taking a cleat to right forearm, his non-throwing arm, on the play at the plate in the seventh. He will be available to pitch in Cleveland.